Situated a little more than ten kilometer from the fine spreading of enormous deodars jacketing the touristy Manali, Kothi makes for quite a visible delight. At 2552 m, almost placed at the foot of the mighty Rohtang La, since time immemorial, Kothi has been an ideal camping ground or base for several popular treks including the traditional crossing over of the pass to reach Lahaul.
Having crisscrossed the Kothi ridge, several times before, it was in the summers of 2013 when opportunity knocked the humdrum of daily life and presented with a window to travel in the Godly Kullu Valley. I immediately grabbed the offer made by my dearest advocate brother and directed myself towards the head of the fertile Beas Valley.
I would not vacillate in calling this place as one among the few remaining idyllic hideouts offered by the Beas region. Retaining its own poetic charm, the splendidly attractive ridge offers plentiful of vistas ranging from green Deodar cover to raging stream and finely shaped snow-capped lower Himalayas to alpine pastures.
Possibly deriving its name from the bungalow, now occupied by the PWD of the state government, the Kothi-ridge has always been among the favourite halting spots for trans-Himalayan bound travellers. Although basic facilities like small shops, a few Guest Houses, restaurants, etc. have sprung up on the ridge, still commanding its grand old charm, the PWD Rest House continues to be the landmark building of the ridge. It was not difficult for me to recognise the PWD RH from the Check Post, for Rohtang cross over, stationed just before Kothi as one crosses the narrow deep Beas Gorge.
As the morning sprang up to life the next day, I could not but minutely observe the splendid canvas of nature. Opposite the bungalow are the fine-girt precipices which line the southern foot of the Rohtang range, while south of them stretches an inimitable vista of the valleys, the wide forestland and the snow-sprinkled ranges that makeup northern sentinels of Kullu. The RH itself is positioned on a grassy slope at the lower edge of the immense forests of pine and chestnut, which were once the favourite haunt of both red and black bear as per the earlier records maintained by travellers. However, on a highly unfortunate note, currently there isn’t much left in the immediate surroundings for a wildlife lover except for the flying scavengers who occasionally glide through thermals coming off the rocky edge.
Just as one slopes down, one of the mighty natural wonders of Kullu lay bare before your eyes. The head of the valley is marked by a mighty crack, as if some natural upheaval had happened in the times gone by. The gorge, more than 20 ft wide, is walled by sheer cliffs. More than 100 ft below at the floor of the gorge, the Beas races and surges with an unceasing roar displaying its free fall momentum from the crest of Rohtang. Down below it is joined by the voluminous Solang Torrent before it gets codified into the Beas River.
Right from the earliest recorded travellers including Col Bruce or Moorcraft and Trebuck in their expedition of 1820, everyone made a special reference to Kothi, its splendidness and the challenge which this Gorge posed to be crossed. As for me, it will continue to attract and inspire me to remain forever attached with Himalayas.